Michael Carter-Williams started 25 games last season – second-most among returning Magic players.
Dwayne Bacon (50 starts) signed with the Knicks on an unguaranteed contract. Nikola Vucevic (44 starts) got traded to the Bulls last season. James Ennis (37 starts) remains a free agent. Evan Fournier (26 starts) got traded to the Celtics last season, then joined the Knicks this summer. Aaron Gordon (25 starts) got traded to the Nuggets last season. Though Cole Anthony (34 starts) returns, rookie Jalen Suggs is already pushing to supplant him in the lineup.
However, Carter-Williams won’t return to his prior role, either – not initially, at least.
Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams underwent surgery yesterday (August 23) to remove a bone fragment and to repair a ligament in his left ankle, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman announced today. He will miss the start of the 2021-22 regular season and his return to basketball activities will depend on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation.
Carter-Williams – who made a name for himself winning 2014 Rookie of the Year while playing point guard for the 76ers – has shifted into more of an off-ball role. The 29-year-old has become a defensive specialist/secondary creator.
Orlando can play R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Terrence Ross at shooting guard. Both because those wings will also play small forward and because the Magic have a logjam at point guard, also expect two-guard lineups with Suggs, Anthony and Markelle Fultz.
Carter-Williams’ injury might change the rotation, but it doesn’t change Orlando’s outlook for the season. This team will probably stink, regardless. Maybe this opens more playing time for promising young players, though.